UN Human Rights Commission Report on North Korea

In February 2014, the UN Human Rights Commission released 400+ pages of material documenting what it called “unspeakable atrocities” in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

In a press release announcing the report, the UN Human Rights Commission said,

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the Commission — established by the Human Rights Council in March 2013 — says in a report that is unprecedented in scope.

“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” the report says, adding that “Crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.”

Guardian Documentary — James Steele: America’s Mystery Man in Iraq

The Guardian has a good but infuriating documentary about the role of retired U.S. Colonel James Steele who Donald Rumsfeld brought into Iraq to assist with counterinsurgency efforts there in 2004. Steele ended up overseeing torture centers and organized the paramilitery Wolf Brigade, which became little more than a death squad.

The Difference Between Iran and U.S. on Human Rights

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami recently took umbrage at the U.S. State Department’s complaints about Iran’s persecution of Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. She was recently issued a summons to appear in court, but the Iranian government refused to tell her what sort of charges she was facing.

This prompted the State Department to express “grave concern” over the court proceedings. Khatami struck back, citing the poor U.S. record on human rights at Abu Ghraib prison,

Now they [the United States] must respond to the crimes committed in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and their relentless killing of people in all parts of the world in the name of freedom and democracy and the support they provide to the brutalities and atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.

Abu Ghraib provides a nice counterpoint between how Iran and the United States handle human rights abuses that occur in prisons.

One of the ring leaders of the Abu Ghraib abuses, Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., was recently convicted by a military court and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Contrast this with what happened to the murderers of Zahra Kazemi, a female reporter with both Canadian and Iranian citizenship. Kazemi was arrested on June 23, 2003 after taking photographs of a prison in Tehran. Kazemi was assaulted in prison, apparently by a prison official, and died of her injuries a couple weeks later.

Iranian officials first tried to claim that she had suffered a “stroke,” but later conceded that she had died as a result of a blow to the head which caused brain hemorrhaging.

Iran charged a security official with beating Kazemi to death, but he was acquitted. Iran’s official story today is that Kazemi was standing when she inexplicably fell to the ground, hit her head, and sustained the fatal blow that fractured her skull.


Iran’s Khatami raps US on rights. The BBC, January 15, 2005.